“Someone will say to me: ‘How can you go from being Senate president back to the Maryland Senate?’ ” Miller (D-Calvert) asked, rhetorically, midway through extemporaneous remarks that consumed roughly a quarter of the 40 minutes the Senate was in session.
“You have to understand history,” he answered.
By that point, he’d already described the history of the Miller Senate Office Building — which was named in his honor two decades ago — and said he was settling into a new office on its ground floor. He described the office as a “secret garden” and invited his colleagues to stop by, noting it has an adjoining conference room.
Miller, 77, told the assembled lawmakers that he’s fine with being a rank-and-file senator in a place filled with the “best and brightest,” an assurance he’s made over and over in the past two days.
“I'm very comfortable in this role,” he said. “I'm very happy in this role.”
About that office, he added: “I feel much more comfortable in my old digs. But I’m there.”
He began his remarks with the sort of administrative admonishing the presiding officer would normally give, upbraiding his colleagues for not filing proposed legislation early.
“Second of all,” Miller said, gathering steam, “I’ve got too much time on my hands now.”
Miller was wearing a camel-colored jacket, since it was Thursday and, for decades, Thursdays were the day when most senators wore similar light-brown blazers. But this Thursday, only a handful did. Ferguson was in navy.
Miller said, twice, that he’s now “on social media.” He mentioned some of the articles he was reading about crime in Baltimore, where more than 300 people have been murdered every year for the past five years, and implored his colleagues to seek solutions to curb the violence.
Never mind that Ferguson and others who represent the city have said their top priority is a statewide overhaul of public schools, and that the city’s senators have been working on Baltimore crime issue for years.
“We are sitting while Rome is burning,” Miller said. “We’re only here for three months; we really need to focus on it.”
After Miller finished his remarks, Ferguson said simply: “We always appreciate the senator’s observations.”
A few hours later, Miller was due to his first assigned committee meeting in decades. Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County), the new Budget and Tax Committee chairman, announced that the chamber’s first-ever president emeritus was going to be a bit late. He stumbled a bit over the word “emeritus.”
“It’s going to be hard to keep saying that,” Guzzone said. “I don’t know what we’re going to have to come up with instead.”
Miller, who stepped down as Senate president because he is battling prostate cancer, arrived midway through the hearing.
As he listened to testimony about whether fraternal organizations should be allowed to have slot machines, he used a red pen to mark up printed copies of proposed bills. Every other lawmaker had a laptop or tablet computer open.
As the bill hearing came to a close, Miller spoke up, noting that gambling expansion bills rarely pass.
“Everybody wants this. It’s a license to print money,” he said to the assembled advocates, adding: “We appreciate your concerns. We’ll look at it very carefully.”